Game design: The Haze

I have always loved games—video games, board games, playground games, you name it—so when I saw that NYU Steinhardt’s Educational Communication and Technology Program was offering a Games and Education course during the Spring semester of 2018, I leapt at the chance to take it. Taking the course at MAGNET in Brooklyn, where NYU’s Game Center is, and working with people in fields unrelated to mine was thrilling. Although it felt like I was learning an entirely new language called game design, because it was connected to educational theory, I was able to make the necessary connections and engage fully in the course. In various class activities, I collaborated with game designers who saw interactivity as a combination of mechanics, while I, an applied theatre practitioner, saw it as facilitated dialogue. I learned a lot from this class and keep the concepts I’ve learned from it in mind whenever I design curriculum or interactive theatrical experiences.

The work I showcase here is an educational alternative reality game (ARG) called The Haze that I’ve designed with three other collaborators. An ARG is an interactive experience that straddles fiction and reality; I indulgently call educational ARG’s process drama, but with more technology. The Haze casts its players as journalists in a future Earth where the air is no longer breathable; they are tasked to investigate its probable causes through looking at clues given to them in-game and in the actual physical world around them. The Haze draws inspiration from the successful ARG World Without Oil.

The artifact I share is the final design document which contains a comprehensive description of the latest version of our game, a record of how the most recent playtesting went.

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You can download the PDF here.

I am not the first person in theatre standing on the intersection between theatre and games. Theatre ensembles such as Coney HQ and other immersive theatre ensembles, particularly in the United Kingdom, have already been combining the two forms for awhile. If given the chance, I would like to learn more from Coney HQ, especially since they collaborate with young people quite often; they are already doing the work I myself would like to do.